Reading Length: 6 minutes
Does this sound like you?
- You’re highly ambitious. You constantly think about success so you feel like you always need to be doing something to make progress towards that success.
- You don’t know how to relax. When you try to relax, your mind still falls to work or to doing something productive.
- You feel guilty when you’re not busy. Even relaxing activities can sometimes make you feel guilty for not doing more. This is a big one.
- You keep telling everyone around you that you’re busy. Society loves hard working and productive people so why not promote it to everyone, right? And people close to you call you out for being busy all the time.
Those are the signs of the “busy-ness” addiction. I think I was actually exposing myself just now. Sad to admit that I’m all of these. I constantly struggle to truly relax and stop feeling toxic productivity guilt. There’s always a waging war going on in my brain. Even though I know that self-care is essential to productivity, I continue to feel my hands just itching to be doing something productive. I know, symptoms of an insane workaholic.
But I doubt that I’m alone on this one. You’re reading this post here so someway or another, you can relate to these struggles. So why the heck is being busy so addicting? Why is it hard to stop?
1. We were raised that way.
Being raised from a pretty successful family, they all had high expectations for everyone of us. Or maybe just me since I’m an only child. If you weren’t focused on school or work, then you would just be considered a lazy loser. A shame shame. Your name would be avoided at family gatherings like Voldemort. Maybe it’s just the stereotypical Asian family. But that’s the type of environment and mindset I grew up with. So you can imagine the effects it had on me until now.
Something that has helped me was identifying “why” exactly was I so busy all the time? I recognized that it was due to familial influences so I started doing some serious self reflection. Every time a guilty thought pops up in my mind, I would try to counter it with another thought. Kind of like confronting those toxic parts of my brain. That’s just the voice of my ancestor.
2. Society is obsessed with busy.
Society tends to admire and reward those that are constantly hustling and grinding. It’s part of the hustle culture we’re in now. It’s like if you’re super busy and overwhelmed, you’ll be considered important and valuable in society. I began to realize this when I would get praises and compliments from others for working hard and working overtime. But when I had vacation, I would get looks of disapproval as though taking a break is a sin or something. My life was practically 90% work and 10% bare minimum living activities.
I’ve intentionally started relying on my calendar to prevent working overtime and to prioritize rest. I allow myself to stay focused and productive in the mornings. And then reserve relaxing activities in the afternoons in order to rest.
I also have a cutoff time at exactly 6pm when I am just completely done with any work. That’s when I enjoy dinner with my mom and afterwards, I get to do whatever relaxing activities I want in order to recharge. So now my life is probably 60% work and 40% leisure. I’m still working on being guilt-free but I’m getting there.
3. We’re afraid to say no.
People pleasing. Ugh, I hate that word but that’s something I tend to fall in the trap of doing. Countless of opportunities have been offered to me and I often feel uncomfortable in rejecting them. I probably should start taping a “NO” to myself.
It’s pretty obvious how to deal with this one. Just say no. Maybe you’ll end up in a awkward or uncomfortable position but it saves you your time and sanity in the long run. We don’t have to brutally reject people. But we can learn to say no in a nicer way such as by:
- Asking for more time to consider the request. You can tell them you need to check your schedule or calendar.
- Explaining that you have a lot of other things on your plate now.
- Proposing an alternative way you can help that person. Maybe finding someone else for them.
4. Our thoughts and feelings scare us.
I remember practically every time I felt a negative emotion like sadness or anger, I would just just right into work in order to avoid those feelings. Crying and working at the same time. As crazy as it sounds, busy-ness became my “therapy.” Avoidance became my default response to anything. Once I realized this, I found that journaling has been helping me tremendously in addressing feelings that I was avoiding. I often reflected upon these questions:
- What am I feeling?
- Why am I feeling this way?
- Is there something I can do about it? Is there someone I can talk to?
Now, I make journaling a daily habit. I don’t ever skip out on a day. Even when I don’t really have much to write, I’ll still jot down something regardless of how small and pointless it may seem. Dumping those thoughts and feelings on something clears out the clutter in my head. And seeing those thoughts on my laptop in front of me also makes me realize that my thoughts and feelings weren’t as scary as I had assumed.
- The signs of a busy-ness addiction are: You’re highly ambitious, you don’t know how to relax, you feel guilty when you’re not busy and you keep telling everyone that you’re busy.
- 1. We were raised that way. Our family can influence us in feeling the need to be busy. Identify your WHY and counter against those guilty thoughts.
- 2. Society is obsessed with busy. Society favors and rewards those who hustle and grind endlessly. Use your calendar to prioritize and schedule rest. Have a cutoff time of when to stop work.
- 3. We’re afraid to say no. People pleasing should be avoided by just saying no. Try saying no in a nicer way.
- 4. Our thoughts and feelings scare us. Don’t just use work as a form of avoidance. Address negative feelings through self reflection and journaling.
If you’re a workaholic, chances are that you relate to some of these problems. Or, if you’re a crazy hot mess workaholic like me then you probably have all of these problems. But it’s totally fine. You’re already doing the first step by acknowledging these issues. I had been seriously in-denial for years but many fun burn out sessions woke me up. So it’s not too late. We can learn to manage the busy load that we take on and learn to prioritize our own well-being and self care first.
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